"We tried to be better, but we aren't. I don't think anyone could last more than a week here if they weren't willing to do bad things." - Alba Reyes

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Rattlesnake
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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
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People. This is why I hate people.

A little part of Nick's brain urged him onwards, scrabbling like a rat over a sea of mice, clawing its way towards the portion of his psyche where all of his suppressed feelings lay, yearning to tear into a store of emotion so long battered, so long suppressed, so long ignored, so long hidden from his conscious mind. That locker where lay sequestered everything he never felt, and everything he never thought he pushed away, because if he was bottling everything up, why did it feel so empty? He wanted to rage, to storm, to savage his classmate's feelings because that would be so wrong. It was a horrible thing to do, and he would feel so bad.

And he would feel so bad.

He would feel so bad.

He would feel.

For all he knew, however, it was just another caustic quip he felt, another barbed witticism or caustic accusation he could fire off. Throwing up another facade would do no good, because he was always throwing up facades. This, at least, he knew about himself. His will to yell and to hurt broke off, falling away from his chest like a headless python. As Andrea continued on, leveling an accusation that was so horrible because it was so true, he shuddered, and a flash of heat seethed downwards from his head to his feet. But he betrayed nothing, not letting even his burning tears escape, though they clung to the corners of his eyes when she asked what in the world she was supposed to say.

Nick Reid maintained his posture, leaning against the mossy tree. He looked down, impassive, then turned his head towards the noise, not to see who was coming but to avoid looking at Andrea. Once she had opened her bag, then stood and asserted herself, he spoke. "Molotovs and a jar of gunpowder - fella could have a pretty good time in Vegas with that." He tested the air with a voice a measure less strong and a face a measure more pained than seconds ago, and she continued to speak.

"No. I, I understand. It's just this soporific or whatever, I'll feel like crap again once the adrenaline wears off. Hah, I just said soporific." In truth, his veins were already clear. The aches from his rough landing were clear again, but that wasn't why he felt so wretched. "Yes, the-"

"Hey."

The effect was immediate. Keeping the bottle in his left hand but dumping his bag unceremoniously to the ground, he turned to face the new arrival and took a stance.

Drop the load, right leg forward, weight on the left, knees bent, barrel mace bottle in front, right side to the shield wall tree, between the maiden and the aggressor.

He was glad that he hadn't spoken out loud, especially the last part, though it might go a ways towards calming troubled waters.

"Hey there," he called back, squinting. "Alex White? We've got nothing, what's your given weapon?" He let his weapon arm swing back down to the vertical, but kept his stance.

On second thought, maybe I should just let the girl do the talking...
VeeFive


V4


NO. THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE. FOR YOU, THE CAKE IS OVER. YOU HAVE REACHED THE END OF CAKE.

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Waking Up is Hard to do · The Woods: Inland